As prosecutors seek a lengthy prison term for Floyd Lee Corkins, the man who pled guilty to terrorism and armed assault in an August 15 attack on the Washington, D.C., office of the Family Research Council (FRC), the conservative Christian, pro-family FRC has released a video with clips that shows Corkins shooting building manager Leo Johnson in the aborted assault — and later telling FBI agents that information he gleaned from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) website inspired the attack.
The SPLC is notorious for publishing lists that tag conservative and Christian groups with extremist and “anti-gay” hate labels and it is this latter designation that turned Corkins’ malevolent attention to the FRC. The FRC video begins with a clip of the attack, which shows Corkins walking into FRC’s lobby, approaching Johnson, pulling a gun, and firing on the FRC employee, who, although wounded in the attack, is seen subduing Corkins. In addition to the handgun, the backpack that Corkins carried contained a bag filled with Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which Corkins planned to use in his attack at the FRC building.
At the time of the attack Chick-fil-A was in the news for the principled stand its CEO had taken in defense of families and traditional marriage — and for a subsequent (and ongoing) attack the fast-food chain has weathered from pro-homosexual groups. Corkins told FBI investigators that “they [FRC] endorse Chick-fil-A and also Chick-fil-A came out against gay marriage, so I was going to use that as a statement.”
In the portion of the FBI interrogation video the FRC included with its own YouTube presentation, a pair of FBI agents are seen asking Corkins what prompted him to target the FRC in his attack. Corkins responds by telling the agents that the “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups. I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website, stuff like that.”
In explaining his motivation Corkins has said that “I wanted to kill the people in the building and then smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face … to kill as many people as I could.”
According to CNN, Corkins said that if he had succeeded in his attack against the FRC, “his plan was to go to another conservative group to continue the attack, prosecutors said. A handwritten list naming three other groups he planned to attack was found among his belongings, prosecutors said.” Assumedly Corkins had selected the other groups from an SPLC list as well. According to court documents, Corkins said that he had thought about such an attack for years, but “just never went through with it.”
The FRC said that Corkins’ crime has shed new light on the SPLC, “which has targeted a wide swath of Americans for standing up for traditional values, most often Christian and conservative.” Thus far, said the FRC, the SPLC has not removed it from a list of “hate groups” whose activities the SPLC supposedly monitors.
“The SPLC’s reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. “Our team is still dealing with the fallout of the attack, that was intended to have a chilling effect on organizations that are simply fighting for their values.”
Perkins challenged the leftist group to “put an immediate stop to its practice of labeling organizations that oppose their promotion of homosexuality.” He added that in a civil society, “shutting down debate is not how reasonable people and organizations operate. Intimidating and bullying others shreds the ‘ordered liberty’ of which our Founders wrote and for which they advocated, and places all of us in jeopardy of losing our sacred rights, as militant extremists claim the public square exclusively for themselves.”
The SPLC did not respond to The New American’s request for an interview on the story. The group has referred other media representatives to a statement made last year in which it insisted that it had “a moral obligation to call out the FRC for its demonizing lies and incendiary rhetoric about the LGBT community. The fact that we list the FRC as a hate group because of its demonizing propaganda does not make us the hateful one. Spreading demonizing lies is what is dangerous, not exposing them.”
During a radio show in February, the FRC’s Perkins insisted that the SPLC “is dangerous” and said that there existed “a clear connection to violence” between the SPLC’s “hate groups” list and Corkins’ attack. “They need to be held accountable,” said Perkins, “and they need to be stopped before people are killed because of their reckless labeling and advocacy for homosexuality and their anti-Christian stance.”